Now that SXSWi is over, and we've had time digest the innovative businesses present at the conference, there’s at least one that deserves additional recognition: GeoStellar, a group of “Solar Evangelists,” hopes to make the jump to solar power for individuals less daunting with their sophisticated mapping software.
The web-app, which will run on any modern web browser, was designed to alleviate some of the inherent frustration attached to planning, mapping and implementing an efficient solar array at a residential or commercial building.
“Our value proposition is helping to knock out a lot of the costs that have nothing to do with going solar,” Lead Software Engineer Chris Cashwell said, speaking loudly and sincerely over the active tradeshow floor. “[Contractors] have to send someone out to take measurements, and we’ve kind of eliminated that step by providing remote sensing, and it’s exactly the same data that contractor would get spending seven and a half hours at your property.”
The measurements Cashwell is referring to are culled from the high resolution, laser-assisted imagery used to populate Google’s Maps service. Cashwell explains just how accurate the technology can be: “We know to a precision of a couple millimeters, exactly what’s happening on your roof. We take into account tree tops and long distance shadows…We can deliver a pretty exact measurement of your roof’s solar potential.”
Beyond building a comprehensive map that explains where the solar panels should be placed on your roof, GeoStellar also provides a detailed 25-year solar report that will explain important figures like, savings on electricity costs, total price of the suggested array before and after government incentives, and how many pounds of CO2 will be saved by making the switch.
This is perhaps the most important tool that GeoStellar’s service provides. To most property owners, solar power is an idea that seems great, albeit a bit idealistic, but one that nonetheless remains a bit nebulous. Most assume the whole process would be expensive and that the complexity of handling everything budget-consciously would be near impossible.
To be clear, the initial investment required to build a powerful solar array is not inexpensive, but GeoStellar can give prospective buyers a solid estimate as to what actual costs would be. And if you’re ready to move forward with the build, GeoStellar has partnerships with third-party vendors in every U.S. market, making the transition even simpler.
GeoStellar critically considered ease of use, resulting in a software that works much like Google Maps. Enter the address you wish to search, click “get results,” and in a matter of seconds the web page will spit out hard data regarding your home or business’s solar potential.
Most compelling, the service is completely free. “What we do is we provide free information about solar power,” Cashwell explained of the company’s philosophy on sustainability. “Our business model is not about money. Our whole thing is basically to stay alive and to be able to keep spreading the good message.”
Whether or not GeoStellar will help propel solar power into the electric mainstream remains to be seen, but with such a simple, inspiring product, it doesn’t hurt to take a look.